Alcohol and the Amino Diet
We often get asked why we don’t recommend any alcohol be consumed while on the diet. First of all you would need to understand that the body burns fuel for energy. Energy sources are proteins, fats, carbohydrates and alcohol. When you are dieting, you want to give your body a little fewer calories so it will use fat stores for energy. However, while on the Amino Diet we also want you to learn to eat healthy and not just count calories.
Alcohol, when ingested, is viewed by the body as a toxin and therefore needs no digestion. It is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and can reach the brain and live in minutes on an empty stomach. When consumed on a full stomach, it does take a little longer, but will arrive there eventually. When the alcohol reaches the liver it focuses only on the alcohol. When the body is focused on the alcohol, it doesn’t breakdown other foods properly so they are just converted into fat cells for storage. Alcohol generally contains seven calories per gram with no nutritional value; therefore it is considered empty calories. Wine and beers are worse because they contain carbohydrates as well as the empty calories. Mixed drinks usually also contain extra sugars which aren’t conducive to a diet.
Because the body considers alcohol a toxin it gets first priority to process and get out of the body. The body will use it as energy. There are two problems with this for dieters. The first issue is that of alcohol being empty calories. If you are looking calorie intake as part of your diet, you’ll get the calories from the alcohol, but no nutrients. This makes it difficult for your body to run properly. The second issue is that if you are eating foods while drinking alcohol, or soon after, the body will use the alcohol for energy first and store the other foods as fats. The Mayo Clinic found that this fat generally becomes viscerel, or belly fat. You also don’t get the nutrients from that food either.
A couple other problems with alcohol while dieting is that it makes you sleepy and you tend to eat more. Although you do get initial energy from the alcohol, it gets used quickly and you will get sleepy. This makes it difficult to get things done you need to. Alcohol also lowers your inhibitions so you may eat foods not on your diet and/or too much food to be good for your diet, and remember that it gets stored as fat. An easy example would be one seven ounce glass of 5% alcohol beer with an order of five hot wings would be 80 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates for the beer and 300-597 calories with about 5-11 grams of carbohydrates and 20-35 grams of protein. That is a total of about 380 calories, 9 grams of carbohydrates and 20 grams of protein, on the lower end. The alcohol will get processed first and those 29 grams of protein and carbohydrates will more than likely become new fat cells. Alcohol will also make you hungry because it lowers your blood sugar, so you will tend to eat more than you normally would.
Some helpful tips if you still want to drink: We recommend that you drink vodka because it is fewer in calories with no carbohydrates. We recommend that you eat first, so you will make healthy choices in the correct quantities. This will help you choose wiser, help the food get metabolized first and also help with the absorption of the alcohol. We also recommend that you limit it to one drink only. We don’t recommend that you do extra exercise to compensate for the alcohol because you don’t have the extra nutrients needed for it. We wouldn’t recommend skipping a meal to consume alcohol either. Again, you won’t have the necessary nutrients to sustain the body.
Genes do play a role in how well your body processes alcohol. What you eat is very important in whether or not you gain weight while drinking. Some people who drink moderately can still maintain their weight. Do be careful of “low-carb” drinks, they still contain alcohol.
Some last words of caution on the subject: a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/70/5/928.sbstract, found that drinking alcohol decreased fat burning in the body by 73% for a few hours after consumption. Another study in the International Journal of Obesity, http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v26/n10/abs/0802069a.html, found that drinking alcohol while eating increases appetites significantly. A last study found that alcohol consumption created an increased BMI http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v29/n12/full/0803034a.html.